A confession: I didn’t imagine it to start like this. After 18 months at the helm of French Basket (Mona Vale / Dee Why, NSW), I’ve been excitedly anticipating our first blog. While we’ve enjoyed a healthy presence on social media since opening in 2018, this blog would give FB a more considered voice on cuisine, coffee, sustainability, and community issues here on the Northern Beaches. I envisaged a debut light as croissant pastry, enthusing over what makes us unique and how our customers have seen us through the notoriously turbulent formation years of any small business.
But as we all understand now, nothing can be taken for granted. Everyone will remember what they were doing when Coronavirus changed our lives. It was mid-March 2020, and our second café in Dee Why had barely opened a month. We’d signed a multi-year lease and invested heavily in renovations to provide a more extensive menu than our first location in Mona Vale. But the fizz of our first champagne had barely abated when Covid-19 social distancing and lockdown laws forced us to cease all but takeaway service.
Like thousands of other restaurants and cafes in Australia, we suddenly faced a genuine threat to our survival, with takings significantly impacted by the restrictions. With much uncertainty surrounding when – and if – normal trading conditions would resume, we had to create an isolation-proof revenue stream.
And again, like many restaurants still cooking through the worst economic crisis of our lives, we opted to add a delivery component to our recently expanded operation. This sudden and unexpected growth spurt required hectic days and sleepless nights to establish. We needed to find a balance between dishes that could handle the rigours of delivery, while maintaining our commitment to French traditions.
Fortunately my homeland serves us well in this department. Famous for its rich soups, stews and cassoulets, most French cuisine is travel-friendly in secure containers and has been a welcome change for those going a little stir crazy after one too many stir fries. The cooler months also call for heartier fare, ideally paired with one of our magnificent French wines! You can find our home delivery menu here: frenchbasket.com.au
Thanks to the fantastic response to this new service – and our loyal coffee, croissant and baguette lovers – we are continuing to trade through the lockdown at both our locations. Whether it be the aroma of one of our speciality coffee blends, or the crunch of our freshly baked French bread, I hope these small continental pleasures are bringing some sensory relief to these difficult days.